For those who love to collect inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, ballerina music boxes, and antique music boxes such as disc driven cylinder music boxes, musical snuff boxes, and the like, there are many things one can look for when it comes to finding the perfect box. However, there are distinct characteristics that cause some music boxes to stand out above others. These are materials, decoration, and the date of the music box.
All music boxes are not made the same. The type of material a carousel music box, wooden music box, inlaid music box, or an antique music box is made from is what helps to create its uniqueness. For example, in the early 19th century, musical snuff boxes were made of inexpensive material from the precious metal family such as gold and silver. There were also some music boxes made of brass, which back then, was rare.
Other musical boxes such as snuff music boxes were made from wood, horn, and tortoiseshell. Wooden snuff music boxes, made from material such as burr oak and burr walnut were very beautiful. Boxes made amboyna wood, which originates from Amboyna Cay, a small island in the South China Sea, were also gorgeous. For those collectors who love to collect wooden music boxes, finding a box made from one of these materials would make a wonderful asset to their collection.
Music jewelry boxes, inlaid music boxes, children's jewelry boxes, and other types of antique music boxes are all decorated differently. The type of decoration a collector of music boxes seeks is based on personal preferences. Some music box collectors might enjoy early 19th century music boxes since many of the lids were used for decorations. For instance, the lids of many musical snuffboxes were done with miniatures painted on ivory. For a music box collector, finding one such as this would be quite a prize. In Music Boxes: A Guide for Collectors, David Tallis suggests that "A good artist to look for is Charles-Claude Delaye, who worked in France in the first half of the 19th century. One of his miniatures on a music snuffbox is fitted with a gilt copper frame, and a bevelled glass. . . If you are lucky you will find a musical snuff box whose lid has been decorated with Italian miniature mosaic. They are the most skillfully made and not too common. If you are even luckier, you will find one with a Swiss enamel miniature on the lid."
Careful research, time, and patience most likely can assist a music box collector in finding a music box whose decorations they will fall in love with.
Date of the Music Box
There are specific things a music box collector should look for when they try to assess the date of a music jewelry box, inlaid music box, ballerina music boxes, carousel music box, and other antique music boxes. A collector must carefully study its design. Once more, author David Tallis says that "Strict rules cannot of course be made, but if features of design indicate a period which is confirmed by the type of box and choice of musical programme, a fairly accurate guess can be made as to the date of the manufacture." Examples of what collectors can look when trying to date a music box, as outlined by Tallis are as follows:
Laminated comb: 1796-1810 Sectional comb in groups of 1: 1796-1820 Sectional comb in groups of 2: 1810-1820 Sectional one piece comb: 1820 onwards
Other features to look for when assessing the date of a music box include ascertaining is a cylinder is hollow or without wax. This gives a music box a metallic tone and means the box predates 1820. These are just a few examples of what collectors can seek. If a collector wants to know for sure the date of a music box, Tallis says that " There is only one way to be completely certain about the year of manufacture. If the box is silver or gold and English, it will have a hallmark which can be looked up in an invaluable book called "Guide to the Marks of the Origin of British and Irish Silver Plate", by Frederick Bradbury. This booklet shows all the hallmarks of the major assay offices from the mid-sixteenth century to the present day. Other books recommended by Tallis are "Silver Collecting for Amateurs" by James Henderson, "Hallmarks on Gold and Silver Plate" by W. Chaffers, and "Les Poincons de Garanties Internationaux pour L'Argent" by Tardy.
Lastly, Al Meekins, owner of the Meekins Music Box Company in Collingsworth, New Jersey has this advice to give for those music box collectors who are seeking the 'Stella' or 'Mira' box. Meekins says: "Look for a quality-a machine that isn't too badly worn and is in restorable condition". In addition, a purchaser can check for the craftsman's initials, which can be found at the top of the cap, on the tune card, or on a plaque on the music box.
Many lovers of collectibles enjoy collecting antique music boxes, wooden jewelry boxes, music jewelry boxes, and inlaid music boxes. Finding the right one to start a music box collection or to add to an existing one can certainly be done. Follow the above tips and start a collection today.
Copyright 2005 Monique Hawkins